Friday, December 24, 2010

Reindeer Food

It's Christmas Eve!

  Before you go to bed, sprinkle this Magic Reindeer Food on your lawn.  The magic glitter and the smell of the oats will help guide Rudolph to your house!

Merry Christmas!

I won't be posting between Christmas and New Years.

See you next year!

Chocolate Spoons

So it seems like I have making batch after batch of peppermint bark.  We all love it and we have been packaging it up and handing it out as teachers gifts too.  With some left over white chocolate we made some chocolate spoons.  I gave the kids the options of putting marshmallows, sprinkles or crushed candy cane on them and they immediately said CANDY CANE!

First the kids pounded and smashed the candy canes with their spoons.

Then we dipped the spoons in melted white chocolate and sprinkled them with the crushed candy canes.

Ready to enjoy with a cup of hot chocolate!  Yummy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Sweet Smell of Christmas

Jillian reminded me about a book we read at her preschool last Christmas called The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia Scarry. 

It is a scented storybook with all the wonderful smells of the season.  At Jillian's preschool her teacher read the book while passing around small containers holding all the sweet smelling items (gingerbread, oranges, candy cane, evergreen etc.).  I ordered the book from Amazon last night so it should arrive on Christmas Eve (love the magic of 2 day shipping).  I'm looking forward to making this a family tradition and creating sweet Christmas memories for the kids.

Cranberry Popcorn Garland

We sat down to make our house a little more festive.  This time we strung together popcorn and cranberries on baker's twine.

I have some long, thicker needles that the girls used to thread the popcorn and cranberries.  There still were a few finger pricks and tears but overall the girls enjoyed the craft.

Matthew wanted to play the itouch instead of helping with the craft and Jillian wanted to do this Early American craft while wearing her Early American bonnet.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Can you guess?

While I was stringing together our Fruit Garland from my last post Chris took Matthew to some of our favorite stores.  He was shopping for some last minute gifts and to get all the delicious food we are going to have on Christmas Eve and for Christmas dinner (the letters F and M are the letters in our Christmas dinner - no it's not fried macaroni - can you guess?).  He came home with some GREAT stuff. 

Can you guess what these are?

If you guessed cupcakes from the most amazing cupcake store around - you are RIGHT!  Some of the mouth watering flavors he and Matthew picked include: gingerbread, white hot chocolate and peppermint  hot cocoa - YUM!

He also picked up a Christmas tabe runner on sale while at Williams Sonoma.  Hmmmmm I wonder what last minute shopping he was doing there?  I have been wanting these mixing bowls.  We'll see what Santa brings.
A package was also delivered today.  Chris had ordered a Christmas car for our train a few weeks ago.  It's a snow globe car that plays Christmas carols - very cute.

......and I just had to throw in a picture of our little Nathan.

....and if case you haven't guessed I also learned how to link to websites!

Fruit Garland

Continuing my obsession with the smells of Christmas I thought we could make an orange and apple spiced garland.  I cut 2 oranges and 1 apple to 1/4 inch thickness and had the kids blot off any surface moisture.

I microwaved the fruit for 2 minutes on paper towel and then set them on a baking sheet to bake at 250 degrees.  I took this picture before sprinkling them with cinnamon.  The house smelled wonderful as the the fruit dried in the oven.  The oranges dried first and I took them out after a few hours.  The apples needed about another hour.

Here is how they looked coming out of the oven.

I strung them with red and white baker's twine and hung them under our mantle.  They look so festive!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa on the Fire Truck

Last night, after supper, we told the kids that we were going to bundle up and look at the moon and the stars and maybe catch a glimpse of Rudolph practicing with the sleigh.  Luckily, we did see an airplane with a red flashing light which the kids believed was Rudolph.  They were super excited!

They were even more excited when they saw our town's decorated Christmas fire truck pull up to the driveway with Santa and presents too!  This is our 4th year having the truck come and they are surprised every time.

The fire department changes the theme and design of the truck every year, but it always looks magical and always excites the kids.

Santa tried to make all the presents educational.  Jillian got ThinkFun's Rush Hour game and was thrilled.  She loves being challenged by puzzles - but can also get easily frustrated.

Nathan received some stacking blocks.

Sarah received ThinkFun's Chocolate Fix.  This is an excellent game that teaches deductive reasoning.  When she opened her present she was really disappointed and tried hard to smile.  Then after playing the game she said it was her most favorite game!  I asked her if she learned a lesson and she said 'yes, don't judge a toy before you play with it!'

Matthew received a Design and Drill toy which has a working drill.  It was a big hit!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Science Experiment Morning

We had a PJ morning while Chris scooted out to Costco.  I thought it would be a good time to try one of the experiments that I talked about in yesterday's post.  Well, the kids blew through the first experiement and the second, third and fourth!  It is really hard to hold their attention!  Next time I think we will try to take things slower and have them record their observations, draw pictures or journal in order to stretch out the lesson.

The first experiement was Foaming Nest.  This simulates how the African tree frog forms a nest of foam that it hangs from a branch to lay its eggs in.  The little froggie babies hatch and then drop from the foam into the water below.  We used an egg white to whip into a foam and then a wooden spoon to act as the branch.  The kids enjoyed this one. 

The next experiment was Fooling your Tongue.  First they chewed an apple and took note of the taste.  Then took another bite with a vanilla soaked cotton ball held near their nose.  The second bite of apple should then taste like vanilla.  This experiment was ok.

Then we did the Cold Feet experiment talking about heat conductors.  One foot stood on a piece of tin foil and one on a bath mat.  Jillian felt that the tin foil was more cold than the bath mat but Sarah didn't.  She said 'Mommy I was born on the coldest day of the year - I don't feel the cold!'

By far the best experiment (and quite honestly the one that I thought the kids wouldn't think much of) was Plop.  It demonstates inertia.  We placed 5 books on a chair, pushed the chair fast and then quickly stopped.  Because of inertia the books will remain in motion and fly off the chair.  The kids loved this and all wanted to try.  Then Sarah came up with the marvelous idea of trying it with people sitting on the chair.  Well, before I knew it kids were flying off chairs all over the kitchen!  It was hillarious and so much fun.  I didn't realize how far little Matthew would fly!  Poor guy ended up flat on his stomach.  It was also a great way to explain the importance of seat belts!  I don't think the kids really understood why they needed seatbelts - but now they do!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Science Fun

I have been enjoying the science books by Janice VanCleave.  The experiements are quick and interesting.  Often they are a little to much for my 7 year old to understand so I do have to sift through them to find the age appropriate ones. 

The kids really enjoyed watching a regular egg have it's shell disolve and then grow larger and larger while in a jar of vinegar for 3 days and then watch the same egg shrink down in size while in a jar of corn syrup.  I had Sarah and Jillian write and draw their observations so they felt like official scientists. 

Some of the experiments that I have planned for us include such kid friendly titles as: Foamy Nests, Fooling your Tongue, Cold Foot and Plop.  It's interesting how I veer away from ones that I have no interest in such as anything about Astronomy.  I'll have to make a point to do some of those so that my lack of excitement doesn't rub off on the kids.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Scented Play Dough

Since I am all about Christmas smells lately I found a recipe for chocolate play dough (made with a bunch of cocoa) and vanilla sugar play dough (vanilla and sparkles).  While the dough smelled delicious it was a little on the dry side.  The kids, however, thought it was the most fabulous thing EVER!  They set to work molding mugs of hot chocolate, cocoa kids, sugar cookies etc.

Here is Matthew helping mommy make the dough.

And Jillian smelling it!

Here is the vanilla sugar dough.  You can't see the sparkles in the pictures but they looked really pretty and gave the dough a festive feel.

I may have to remake our salt dough (from a previous post) and make cinnamon salt dough to add to our smells of Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Clove Pomanders

Just the smell of oranges reminds me of Christmas.  I love that our counter top bowls have been filled with mandarin oranges and our fridge full of the delicious citrus fruits of the season.  I wanted to make a pomander to fill the house with even more of the delicious smells of Christmas.

While the girls were at school Matthew and I sat down with our cloves, chopsticks and an orange while Nathan bounced away in the chair beside us.

If you would like to make a true pomander it takes quite a lot of time to cure.  We just wanted a pomander that would last a few weeks and were not worried about making a preserved one that would last for years.  If you want to learn how to make a true, long lasting pomander here is a link.....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Homemade Birdseed Ornaments

Chris is a lover of birds and enjoys filling up feeders to see all the colorful birds come into our backyard.  The girls and I decided that making a homemade birdseed ornament would be a perfect gift from the kids to their Daddy.  After searching for ways to make homemade bird feeder ornaments I found this.

I figured I better test it out before trying it with the kids and I am very glad that I did as I had to make some quick changes in the 'mold' that I used and ended up making a sizable mess in the kitchen.  I finally settled on small bowls that we had in the house but I will likely try the dollar store for a cake mold that will look like a wreath for the present.  I will aspire for our birdseed wreath to look as lovely as Stephanie Lynn's but until then this is the ornament that I tested today.

I cut up a straw and placed it in the birdseed while it set in the fridge so that we would be able to string up the ornament.

And here it is hanging on one of our evergreens.  It turned out pretty well!  I'm looking forward to seeing how the wreath will turn out! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Haircut Day

Since Jillian decided to cut her own hair yesterday and Matthew was in need of a haircut anyway we headed out to the hairdresser this morning.  Jillian is very sad about her new shorter hair........

....but she managed to flash me one of her adorable smiles.

Matthew looks like such a big boy with his new haircut.  I love these pictures of Matthew and his little brother.

You'll notice a beautiful arrangement of tulips, evergreens and candycanes in the background.  The other morning, while Chris was away in Minnesota, I had a really difficult time with the kids.  After venting about it to Chris over the phone I was surprised by this lovely arrangement being delivered to the house.  What a sweet hubby! 

Scribble Cookies

I suggested to Matthew that we make Scribble Cookies as his Christmas gifts to his classmates in the 2's program he attends.  I think the name sounded really cool to him so he agreed.  We have made these before with all the leftover bits of crayons that accumulate but since these are to be gifts we used a box of new crayons.

First we removed all the paper wrapping from the crayons and then I let Matthew come up with the color palette by choosing 3 crayons for each cookie (next time I think I would use 4 crayons/cookie to make them a little thicker).  I snapped each crayon into pieces and put them in a 250 degree oven (works best if the muffin tin has been sprayed with non stick spray).  We baked them in the oven until the pieces were almost all completly liquid.  Then I removed them and let them set on the counter for a bit before popping them in the fridge for a final set.

Here is the finished product!  I think Matthew did a great job designing his scribble cookies for his friends!  He was so proud of the final result and so were his sisters who each wanted to keep some for themselves.

Next I just have to package them with a festive gift tag and he is all set to hand them out on his last day of school before Christmas!
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